Supporters of the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) captured a policeman in Islamabad as lakhs of protesters marched from Lahore to Pakistan’s capital on Saturday demanding the release of their detained leader Saad Rizvi.
On Saturday, the TLP said it lost seven supporters in clashes with authorities in Lahore. Three policemen were also killed in the unrest. The total deaths, so far, are 10.
In details exclusively available to CNN-News18, protesters alleged that the policeman was making a petrol bomb to falsely implicate the TLP for arson and rioting. Following this incident, TLP protesters captured 2,000 police personnel and Rangers.
Negotiations between protesters and the Pakistani government are not working as talks with interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad also failed. Ahmad, who was in Dubai to watch Pakistan compete in the T20 cricket World Cup, returned home on Prime Minister Imran Khan’s directive to monitor the situation.
In a letter to chief secretaries of Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Punjab, the Islamabad administration asked for 30,000 extra police force.
Police closed off major roads in Islamabad and Lahore using shipping containers to block the march.
The radical Islamist group’s supporters had gathered after Friday prayers to demand Rizvi’s release, blocking roads and firing projectiles in deadly clashes with police.
Rizvi was arrested in April when the Pakistan government outlawed the party in response to violent anti-France protests. The party was behind the major protests that led the French embassy to issue a warning for all French citizens to leave the country, earlier this year.
The TLP has waged an anti-France campaign since President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of a satirical magazine to republish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed — an act deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.
Six police officers were killed in April when the TLP staged days of rallies that shut roads and paralysed Lahore, a sprawling metropolis of over 10 million people.
(With AFP inputs)